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A Clash of Civilizations At Home And Abroad


It is a tired vignette, a cliche that is beyond parody.

The ostensibly elected president or senior cabinet official of some Third World pest hole takes to the rostrum at the United Nations to chastise the United States for its terrible record on human rights or its lack of respect. The State Department and the American left sagely nods its addled head and agrees. Yes. We have been very, very bad to [fill in your favorite oppressed group here]. Yes. We are racists and vile colonialists.

This week we saw it again but this time in was farcical and made dangerous by the actions of the current regime in the White House.

As we are all aware by now, through a series of utterly boneheaded decisions we had diplomatic facilities in several countries attacked on 9/12/2012. Our embassy in Cairo and a consulate in Benghazi were sacked. An ambassador and three staff members slaughtered. The Obama regime, in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves and finding blaming President Bush not credible even to the slobbering sycophants in the nation’s newsrooms contrived to blame a YouTube video that purports to be the trailer to a movie no one has seen. This movie, as best I can determine, does little more than do a better job of describing the activities of Mohammed than anything we’ve seen in the Western press.

Last Friday, the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the representative of an islamist regime, spoke at the UN dispensing this wisdom to the United States and the world.

“Unfortunately, Islamophobia has also become a new form of racism like anti-Semitism. It can no longer be tolerated under the guise of freedom of expression. Freedom does not mean anarchy,” he told the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

While Turkey’s record on religious freedom may be acceptable it the Middle East, by the standards of civilized nations it is abysmal. Seminaries are controlled by the government, religious officials are not allowed to criticize the government, religions must be licensed by the government, etc. Likewise, its understanding of the concept of free speech is exotic to say the least.

To make a long point short, Mr. Davutoglu, is hardly in a position to lecture anyone about much of anything. We are the country we are, Turkey a benighted pimple on Europe’s buttocks, precisely because of our respective values.

He was followed after a time by Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi. It may have escaped Mr. Mursi’s attention that Cairo is, in fact, in Egypt. Rather than express regret for the outrageous behavior apparently condoned by his security forces, he, too, felt free to lecture the United States:

“Egypt respects freedom of expression, freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone,” he said. “We expect from others, as they expect from us, that they respect our cultural specifics and religious references, and not impose concepts or cultures that are unacceptable to us.”

Egypt’s policies on religious freedom and free speech make the situation in Turkey resemble a Berkeley commune in 1968. On the positive side, if you want to live where you can legally have sex with your dead wife, Egypt is definitely your country.

What both of these islamists seem to not understand is that 1) there is no such thing as islamophobia, 2) the actions of a private citizen in another country are of no concern to them, and 3) if their populace is so uncultured and barbaric that it riots at the drop of a turban or suicide vest then they perhaps have little standing to lecture others on standards of deportment.

But these represent the thugocracies so endemic in the Arab and islamic world. Not much surprise.

What is more stunning is the reaction at home.

Obama had to use his time on the stage at the UN not to demand accountability from a handful of lawless nations for damage to our facilities and the deaths of our diplomats. No, he had to assure the assembly that in his narrow, crabbed world view that the future would not belong to “those who slander the prophet of Islam,” apparently unaware that he, himself, has claimed to be a Christian which by definition means we deny there was a “prophet of Islam.”

First, we have the president and secretary of state criticizing the activities of a private citizen carried out inside the United States to foreign countries. In fact, you and me, taxpayers, paid for the privilege of having free speech criticized via paid television advertisements to a country only barely worthy of the name.

Now we have one of the liberal brain trust, a rent seeker names Eric Posner, thinking big brain thoughts in Slate. He concludes that free speech really isn’t an American value, notwithstanding that First Amendment nonsense, and it is really over valued.

But there is another possible response. This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.

Pay attention. If your kids are going to law school at University of Chicago, this is what they are being taught.

He was not alone. John Kerry, who I understand was in Vietnam, John Rockefeller, and reporter named Sarah Chayes, who now lives in a country where women can’t leave the house unless they are completely covered — though I will admit she makes a damned good case for why that is appropriate dress at least in her case — also weighed in. They seem to be advocating what even NPR contemptuously calls a “foreign policy exception” to the First Amendment.

Though I completely supported George Bush’s attempt to bring some semblance of civilization to the Arab world, I now despair that it is even possible. It is a culture that is bogged down in the early 12th century that has no desire to change. Fine. So long as we can siphon off their oil I don’t have a problem with them happily slaughtering each other for amusement.

A greater concern is the abject cowardice that now permeates our political class. We have had the president, secretary of state, and US senators condemn the non-violent and constitutionally protected activity of a US citizen operating within the borders of the United States. We have a prominent law professor torturing US history on the rack to have it confess that the First Amendment never before meant what we think it means.

And our values are being sold out to appease people who have nothing to offer us and who can’t be appeased in the first place.

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